Articles Posted in Divorce

Americans’ attitudes toward pets have changed over the last several decades. Today, many pet owners call themselves “pet parents” and their pets “fur babies.” While these relationships have evolved, animal law has been slow to follow suit. This can present some unique challenges when a married couple who shares a pet (or pets) decides to divorce. As is true of many circumstances surrounding divorce, you have options for dealing with this challenge. To make sure you are protecting your interests — and the best interests of your pet — it is wise to consult with an experienced Maryland divorce lawyer about your situation.

One location where the law is evolving is neighboring D.C. In April of this year, the “Animal Care and Control Omnibus Amendment Act of 2022” took effect. That new law says that, when a couple goes through a divorce or a legal separation proceeding, the trial judge should consider the “best interests” of the “pet animals” when deciding which spouse gets the pets.

Here in Maryland, the law functions differently. Maryland law says that pets are personal property, essential the same as a car, a boat, or a sofa. The significance of that — in terms of a divorce — is that your pets (much like that hypothetical car, boat, or sofa) are subject to equitable distribution if you acquired them during your marriage. (If you brought them into your marriage, the law often will deem them your non-marital property and you will retain them after the divorce. The same is true for pets your spouse brought into the marriage.)

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In elementary school math class, students begin learning about the “order of operations.” This concept governs the sequence in which to complete various mathematical operations in pursuit of the correct solution. In divorce law, we have something similar. Maryland divorce law lays out a specific sequence of mathematical steps to use in calculating the marital and non-marital interests in a property. These computations — and the correct performance of them — can have a major impact on the outcome of your divorce. To make sure you are getting a fair judgment, you need to ensure the court has all the relevant facts. An experienced Maryland divorce lawyer often can provide essential assistance in doing that.

Just like how solving a math equation without following the order-of-operations rules will result in a wrong answer, doing the mathematical steps for calculating marital interest in the wrong order similarly will yield an errant result… one that’s subject to reversal on appeal.

The recent divorce of one Calvert County couple is a good example. J.S. and H.S. married in the summer of 2014. Five months earlier, the husband had purchased a six-bedroom home for $450,000, paying $160,000 down.

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Divorce cases are often highly fact-intensive contests. That means that much of the outcome of your case will rest on the trial judge’s exercise of his/her discretion. Overturning a trial court decision based on a judge’s exercise of discretion is often highly difficult, which is why, if you are embarking on a contested divorce, it’s well worth your while to retain a skilled Maryland divorce lawyer and make sure your trial presentation is the strongest it can be.

A recent divorce case originating here in Montgomery County makes for a good case study revealing some “everyday” types of information that can help you as you approach the divorce litigation process.

One point is ensuring that you have clear and open lines of communication with your lawyer and that both of you are “on the same page.”

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One of the essential components of many divorce actions is contesting alimony. The differences between temporary alimony versus rehabilitative alimony versus indefinite alimony can be enormous, having a massive impact on both the recipient spouse and the supporting spouse. If you’re facing a dispute over alimony in your divorce case, the stakes are much too great to proceed with representation from a skilled Maryland divorce attorney.

One of the situations in which a recipient spouse can succeed in obtaining indefinite alimony is when he/she sufficiently demonstrates to the court that the difference between his/her post-divorce financial situation and that of the supporting spouse is “unconscionable” under the law.

A divorce case from Harford County represents one circumstance where unconscionability potentially existed.

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In Maryland, and across the United States, we have “freedom of contract.” This means that you and another party (or parties) mostly can customize the terms of your agreements however you want without governmental interference. That freedom extends to prenuptial agreements, but it is not without limits. Certain subject matters cannot be controlled by a prenuptial agreement and clauses purporting to do so are necessarily unenforceable. Working with a knowledgeable Maryland prenuptial agreement lawyer can be invaluable in making the document you sign will accomplish the goals you desire to achieve.

Getting your prenuptial agreement “right” is crucial for multiple reasons. For one thing, courts will (due to freedom of contract) enforce most prenuptial agreement provisions as written. However, on the other hand, including an unenforceable provision may substantially damage your overall agreement.

A recent divorce case originating in Prince George’s County shows what can happen when a prenuptial agreement goes wrong. The agreement contained one paragraph that said that if the wife left, filed for separation, or filed for divorce, the husband would get full custody of the couple’s children and the wife would receive “unlimited visitation rights.” Additionally, the wife promised in the second paragraph to raise the children in the Islamic faith.

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Recently, a Montgomery County husband sought to defeat via appeal a divorce judgment that gave his wife a monetary award of more than $20,000 and three years of rehabilitative alimony. The wife’s success in the divorce trial — and the husband’s unsuccessful appeal thereafter — is yet another reminder of the paramount importance of having a strong presentation prepared for trial, which is one reason why a knowledgeable Maryland divorce lawyer can provide essential aid in your divorce case.

The couple married in Ethiopia in 2003. After 16 years of marriage and three children, they separated in late 2019, filing for divorce in 2020.

At trial, the husband testified that he made $60,000 as a school bus driver and an Uber driver. He also received a $91,000 small business loan in 2020. He alleged that he had $6,800 in monthly expenses, resulting in a monthly deficit of nearly $1,800.

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People who try to litigate their divorce actions without the aid of a knowledgeable Maryland divorce lawyer can fall victim to many potential pitfalls. A recent case originating in Baltimore County, while not a divorce action, nevertheless contains some very valuable lessons for people considering litigating a divorce without counsel.

The dispute pitted a landlord against his former tenant. The landlord’s lawsuit alleged that the tenant owed more than $17,000 in unpaid rent and compensation for property damage. The tenant received her copy of the court papers (which included the landlord’s complaint and a court summons) on Dec. 20, 2020.

The tenant didn’t hire a lawyer. On Jan. 6, 2021, she filed a document with the trial court that she called a “Late Defense,” even though the document was, in fact, not late. She’d made a critical error, though: she neglected to include a “Certificate of Service,” which is a mandatory component of all valid court complaints and responses.

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Here in Maryland, you have multiple avenues for seeking a divorce. You can pursue a “no-fault” divorce, provided you and your spouse have been separated for at least 12 months. Alternately, Maryland law recognizes six other causes for granting an absolute divorce, each of which revolves around the other spouse’s fault. Whether you’re proceeding with a no-fault divorce or a divorce based on your spouse’s fault, a skilled Maryland divorce lawyer can help you accomplish your goals more fully.

Obviously, if you’re pursuing a “fault” divorce based on your spouse’s adultery, you’re going to need proof of his/her bad conduct. In Maryland, you don’t have to present evidence of actual coupling between your spouse and a paramour; you simply have to establish that your spouse had both the “disposition” and the “opportunity” to cheat.

However, as a recent divorce case from Howard County shows, proof of your spouse’s marital misconduct can be beneficial to your case, even if you’re proceeding with a no-fault divorce.

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A recent case from Prince George’s County includes some highly unusual facts, including a woman’s 2011-12 effort to invalidate her divorce and her 2020 attempt to annul her husband’s marriage to his second wife… even though the husband died in 2007. While the outcome of the woman’s case doesn’t break new legal ground regarding issues like the division of marital property, it does serve to remind all spouses that, if they think you have a need to take legal action, don’t wait. Instead, get in touch with a knowledgeable Maryland divorce lawyer as soon as possible to begin protecting your rights and avoiding risking losing them due to excessive delay.

A deceased man’s two marriages make for a case in point. It all started when, after four years of marriage, A.P. and his wife, B.P., separated in 1975. They did not, however, get divorced.

In 1991, the husband sought a divorce in D.C. The wife didn’t participate so the D.C. judge granted the man a default judgment of absolute divorce. The next year, A.P. wed again. A.P. and his second wife, M.P. remained together until the man’s death in September 2007.

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A skilled Maryland divorce lawyer can provide crucial assistance in most divorce cases. However, there are some types of cases where the aid of knowledgeable legal counsel is especially crucial, and that includes matters that span across multiple jurisdictions.

For one couple in Baltimore County, their divorce spanned multiple countries. The husband was a dual citizen of the United States and Nigeria. The couple married in the Nigerian capital in 2003 but relocated to Pikesville the next year, where they remained until their separation in 2019.

The wife filed her Maryland divorce petition in late May 2021. Three months later, the husband asked the judge to dismiss the petition. The reason? The husband had already filed a divorce petition in Nigeria in October 2020.

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